Great Britain

Spring Into Spain

Today I’m in the Moorish city of Cordoba visiting its extraordinary mosque. The Iberian and Roman city became the capital of an Islamic caliphate in the Middle Ages. At the end of the 10th century it was the most populous city in the world and the intellectual center of Europe. Much of the city’s fabric […]

Possibly The Most Calming Thing You’ll Ever See

How did a simple phrase go from being a forgotten poster to an iconic symbol of modern England? Check out this excellent little explanation but be warned; you may rather deeply fall in love with the bookshop…

It’s All Getting A Bit British

Now, I draw the line at Union Jack tat and those gruesome shops that sell teddy bears in policeman’s helmets and plastic telephone boxes (come on, when was the last time you used a telephone box?) but I have to say I admire Emma Bridgewater’s line of very muscular Victorian crockery and stuff for the […]

Rethinking British Summertime

At this time of the year my neighbour’s kid might still be expected to be shovelling snow. Yesterday he was asleep on his outdoor pool table, soaking up the rays. The Christmas poinsettias are still on the windowsill. Until three weeks ago there were still Christmas lights on the lampposts nearby. And for the last […]

What’ll You Have?

I’m not entirely sure whether she’s a real barmaid, but she’s definitely not from around here. This is apparently the modern equivalent to the traditional ‘busty barmaid’ of yore, now slimmed down and underdressed for modern tastes. Like her predecessor she does, however, have a bewildering array of drinks to serve. And just when you […]

Jack’s Back

In 1948, with Britain still enduring ration books (they would for another five years), the GB Olympics team had to bring their own sandwiches if they wanted lunch during the games, and sports kits were of the itchy school gym variety. Now we have a fashion show just for the unveiling of Stella McCartney’s futuristic […]

Visit England – Bring Jumpers

Yes, it’s nice again today but come on! Some of the shots in this commercial from the English Tourist Board’s big push for the year – like being waved at by a gaggle of old dears – catch the true ghastliness of tromping around villages looking for something to do, but the choices are odd, […]

Re:View – ‘Can We Talk About This?’

DV8, the risk-taking dance group that grew into a political theatre movement, are 25 years old now, and are currently appearing in a sell-out show at the National. In the last few years they’ve moved from sexual politics into a darker world arena. Their latest piece, like the last, is entirely constructed from verbatim quotes, […]

The Return Of British Food

It’s off-putting eating a strawberry when you know it’s been flown all the way from Israel to be on your plate. Yesterday I made a tour of my local farmers’ markets to see what was on offer, and was told that a lot of very British food was returning, from samphire, salsify and sorrel to […]

Ruddy Hell!

This is a weird story. The last remaining one hundred Ruddy Ducks in England are to be shot at great expense by a government agency because the Spanish have complained that they interbreed with their own rare white-headed ducks. So far the Spaniards have killed 6,500 Ruddy Ducks at a cost of over £5 million, […]